Chief officer wheeled to court in tears over Sh17 million debt owed to a contractor

A chief officer was driven to court in an ambulance to testify in a case a contractor is seeking to be paid Sh17 million by Vihiga County government.

Tears rolled down Trade Department officer Gilbert Musalia’s face when the team of medical officers placed him next to the dock while lying on a stretcher.

High Court judge Fred Ochieng had insisted that Musalia appears in person to provide proof that the county government had paid the contractor money owed to him based on a 15-day deadline that had been set by the court.

The judge had adjourned the court sittings twice as he waited for the chief officer to arrive in court and remained adamant that he would wait for him at the chambers.

Pleas by the defense lawyer Maobe Mukhwana to have the matter adjourned flopped with the judge insisting that the chief officer appears in person.

The officer may face a similar scenario when he appears in court after the eight days given by the judge lapse.

The judge ordered that he appears again in court in “whatever condition he is in” to confirm compliance with the court orders.

“Because he appears unwell, I reluctantly give an adjournment. The bond is extended until March 24, 2021. The respondent should appear in court by 8 am,” said Justice Ochieng.

The judge added; “I do not know the condition he will be in but he must be in court.

Musalia breathed a sigh of relief after the court extended his bond terms and granted him eight more days to offset a Sh17 million debt the county government owes a contractor.

In the suit, Musalia has been accused alongside his counterpart in the finance department of failing to pay a contractor who was tasked by the county government to construct market stalls in Mbale.

During the course of the proceedings, the court heard that Musalia had agreed to offset the amount in a structured basis and had been expected to pay Sh17 million before yesterday’s proceedings.

The stalls were reportedly constructed by Galexon Kenya Limited in Mbale but attempts to have the county government pay the amount owed to the contractor had borne no fruits.

In an affidavit filed before the court, Musalia had claimed that he made attempts to have the amount paid and had even prepared a voucher for the payments.

He claimed that he has been lobbying for a budget to help offset the amount and absolved himself from blame for the delays in offsetting the payments.

“I stand to suffer greatly but yet I am not the person withholding payment,” read his affidavit in part.

And yesterday, his lawyer was put to task to produce him in court and also explain the delays in offsetting the payments.

Vihiga Chief officer of trade at Kisumu Law courts on a stretcher on March 16th 2021. He breathed a sigh of relief after the court extended his bond terms and granted him eight more days to offset sh.17 million the county government owes contractors. (Collins Oduor, Standard)

The advocate urged the court to extend his bond terms on health grounds and claimed that the officers in charge of the departments are the ones who should be held accountable.

“My client has already made efforts to effect the payments and has already cleared the payment voucher. Unfortunately, the finance department has declined to release the funds,” she said.

According to the contractor through his advocate George Odino, the county government has refused to pay the amount and had violated directives by the court.

In his ruling, Justice Ochieng said that the chief officer was responsible for the payments and directed him to effect the payments before March 24.

“The respondent should appear in court to provide evidence that the payments have been effected,” said Justice Ochieng.

Credit: Source link